Monthly Archives: August 2006

No Jury on Earth Would Convict Him

Unless there turns out to be some skulduggery going on, and this isn’t the real story or the neighbor’s proven innocent, this man is going to walk.

I don’t condone murder or vigilantism, but I think “He needed killing” will turn out to apply even in Connecticut.

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Public Domain Book Scans on Google

You go to books.google.com and you select “full view”. Then pick your search term. You can download PDFs of the public domain books Google’s got up.

I don’t think much of their viewer format — or of PDFs, for that matter. But… any free book in a storm, ne?

Layamon’s Brut, in the original, with a prose translation at the bottom of each page.

The huge A Menology of England and Wales, Or, Brief Memorials of the Ancient British and English Saints. And the Cornish ones. Yep, it’s actually a Catholic book of UK saints! Awesome! Highly recommended for parents who want to name their kids something weird yet still have a valid saint’s name. Sidwell is a lovely modern girl’s name, ne? Or how about Avrildis? :)

People wishing to avoid treading on USCCB territory yet wishing to podcast encyclicals can find a good number of public domain translations, if you poke about in libraries or online. Here’s Pope Gregory XVI (with anti-Catholic annotations!). Watch out for mouth foam flying from the footnotes.

Seriously, though, podcasters can find plenty of apparently public domain material on the EWTN website or papalencyclicals.net, as well as vatican.va. (Vatican.va only goes back to Pope Leo XIII or so, at this point.) The problem is that none of these sites feel like telling you where they got their stuff and who translated it when. Sigh.

Have fun!

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Watchers, Not Doers.

Harlan Ellison is one of those people who alternates between being brilliant and insightful, and being a total jerk. Now, I respect him as a writer, but I always doubted some of the stories of his jerkishness. I mean, if he was really that bad, how could people allow him to do jerkish things without doing anything proactive about them? I mean, yeah, he knows martial arts, and yeah, he’s short. But why do so many fans tell horror stories about his doings that don’t include, “So I punched him in the gut, and he whined about it afterward, but he didn’t bother me again”?

He apparently capped his career at Worldcon’s award ceremonies this year. (Yes, in front of God, TV cameras, and everybody.) Connie Willis was emceeing or something, and Ellison was up for some kind of lifetime achievement award. Apparently, Willis told him to behave, and Ellison groped her breast in some kind of (he claims) bizarre attempted joke.

Well, the joke went over like a lead balloon, if that’s what it was intended to be. It certainly counted as some kind of assault.

But here’s the kicker. Now, even if Connie Willis was too stunned (or fearful of hurting the elderly Ellison) to give Harlan the back of her hand, or inform him that if he didn’t apologize at once he’d be drawing back a bloody stump — <B>why didn’t anyone else do it for her?</B> All those editors and writers, smofs and BNFs, all those Hugo Awards security guys — why the heck did they let it go?

Why didn’t they confiscate his award and throw him out of the con, or at least take him away and give him a good talking to? I guarandamntee they’d’ve done that to some feckless teenager who’d groped a multiple Hugo winner.
And what’s the use of bitching about it afterward, if you’re not going to do anything to stop it right then?

Oh, wait. If you let Harlan go, you don’t have to worry about his amazing geezerly martial arts skills beating your butts. And you can’t go on your blog later and blame it all on Bush.

So this is where we are: Not enough societal decorum to prevent the incident. Not enough societal confidence for a good rousing slap. Not enough male overprotectiveness to swarm the groper and make him step outside. Not enough societal angry feminism to jump in with a sisterly knuckle sandwich. Not enough libertarianism for self-defense. Not even enough faith in new agey crud to swarm Harlan with sage smoke and wards to drive away his evil spirit.

Not enough of anything for anything, except for bitching — and applause for a later Willis remark, since that didn’t cost the bystanders anything.

Kitty Genovese, please call your office.

UPDATE: People were acting friendly toward Ellison immediately afterward. As in, woman leading Ellison off the stage, immediately afterward.

Social ostracism, folks. It’s a tool.

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Jane Austen and Myths

Enbrethiliel has raised an interesting point. Jane Austen is one of the great writers of the world, and Pride and Prejudice is a great book. But, though one hesitates to complain, it is very true that Austen’s sort of truth is not the mythopoeic sort.

The Brontes, of course, could have written a Big Fat Fantasy Novel with their eyes closed (and probably did). Kipling and Twain were fanboys when they felt like it. But not Austen. Hmm.

The thing is, Gothic novels, notwithstanding the perpetual Scooby-Doo endings, are probably the best equivalent to Big Fat Fantasy Novels. But though Austen obviously read them enough to produce Northanger Abbey, she was much more interested in the Gothic fangirl than in what the fangirl was seeking by reading Gothics. She apparently got great delight in her youth from making jokes about most of English history; kings and noble princes were comedy material for her.

It may, of course, be fate as well as Austen’s mental outlook that produces her wry practicality.  Only Austen would be invited to a palace — so the Prince Regent, in all his determined unconventionalness, could go all fannish about how good her novels were. Also, she may have had many close friends whose romanticism was trying.

But was she really untouched by legends and myths and the old, old stories? Or was she simply a writer so private about such fantastic dreams that she could only make jokes of them? Or did she simply conceal fantasies in discreet modern dress?

I mean, she did tend to fix her heroines up, eventually, in extremely desirable situations which one might easily term ‘romantic’. Sheesh, Darcy might as well own his own frickin’ kingdom, and his sister be the beautiful wronged young princess. Naval captains are romantic. Trying to change someone’s whole life — that’s a fairy godmother or witch’s job, and a very fantastic premise. Taking headers off great heights? Definitely all Gothicky and mythical. But there’s no denying that, even if the components are there, her books don’t have the mythopoeic feel. She didn’t want them to have it.

Still, I wish she’d written us a straight out fairy tale, even a very little one.  I bet it would’ve been good.

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Mary the Unknotter — Patristic Edition!

Some of you may remember my post on the intriguing image of Mary as “Untier of Knots” — solving knotty problems that are hurting marriages, and the like.

Well, it turns out that the Augsburg priest who unwittingly originated this devotion to Maria als Knotenlöserin, aka La Desatadora, was actually not thinking up anything new at all. He was deep in the mind of the Church, studying the Fathers.

From Fr. Livius, this bit of Book III of Against Heresies, by St. Irenaeus of Lyon:

“….thereby pointing to that intercircling which traces back from Mary to Eve. For what is knotted up together cannot be unloosed, except by undoing the whole series of knots, and in such a way that the knots earliest made have to be undone, by first untying the knots that were made later. And so these latter set free the former. Hence, because the unloosing of the first-made must depend on the one made next, it is this latter that has to be undone first. And so said the Lord, The first shall be last, and the last first… For this cause also Luke, beginning his genealogy from Our Lord, carried it back to Adam, to signify that it was He who regenerated them [His own forefathers], not they Him, into the Gospel of life. Even so, too, the knot of Eve’s disobedience obtained its unloosing through the obedience of Mary: for what Eve, a virgin, bound by her unbelief, that same, Mary, a virgin, unbound by her faith.”

I would have gotten there eventually on the podcast. Really. A few months from now…. Anyway, you can see why I think this is very nifty. Also, why I think this 1893 book on the Fathers that I found over at UD is nifty.

This Desatadora site already knew about Irenaeus. Sigh. Must read more!

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Good News, Bad News

First, the good news:

Reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig have been released! Frabjous joy and glee! (Not to mention some serious relief.) This is a wonderful thing.

Now, the bad news:

Among all the other crapola they had to go through, Centanni says he and Wiig were forced at gunpoint to “convert” to Islam.

There are two reasons why this is a bad thing. First, Islam doesn’t actually recognize the concept that “anything done under duress doesn’t count”. So every Muslim they meet in their job from now on will expect Centanni and Wiig to obey Muslim law. If Centanni and Wiig announce that they’re not Muslims, they will be apostates. Apostates are pretty much fair game.

I don’t know Centanni and Wiig’s religious beliefs for sure. (I’ve heard Centanni’s Christian, but it’s not like you can easily look stuff like that up.) Still, doing anything under duress is psychologically no fun, and Centanni seemed particularly unhappy about this. But if Centanni and Wiig are Christians… well, it’s definitely no fun having to choose whether to confess one’s faith at gunpoint, when you have family at home you want to live for. But it’s also no fun to live knowing that you didn’t have the stuff of martyrs in you — or that you chose not to have it, anyway.

Moreover, while Christian tradition supports the idea that in every other matter, duress doesn’t count — the very essence from earliest times of being a Christian is that you will not deny your Lord, even under duress. That you will glory, in fact, in defying duress and declaring your faith.

But though Christians revere the martyr and the confessor, they also remember that one of the Apostles betrayed Jesus, one denied Him three times, and the other ten Apostles ran away.

But the one who denied Him lived with his sin, and asked for forgiveness. He was given charge of the sheep and lambs, and strength for his brethren.

And the one who ran away half-naked dared to stand at the foot of the Cross with Jesus’  mother, and so Jesus’ mother became as his own.

(And surely there would have been forgiveness for the betrayer, too, if he had been able to bear to ask it.)

So this is what I say, if Centanni and Wiig are Christian:

There are many of us who are offered the Cross every day, and many of us who, to our shame, refuse to carry it. But the Physician came to heal sinners, and the Church is full of patients as well as nurses. That is our shame, but our glory too. Sure, it’s shameful to sin, and this is a biggie. But the thing to do is not to let the wound fester. Go to the Physician and be healed, as quickly as you can. If he did it for Peter, he will do it for you.

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Popular Devotions

The Armor of God PJs below belong to the same category of prayer as the Rosary. That category is called “popular devotions” — in other words, unofficial prayers and pious practices. Stuff you do on your own or with your family, as opposed to liturgical prayer. It’s the customized parts of a prayer life.

In general, popular devotions are a good thing. Anything that gets people to pray more, to pray always, to keep God and their ultimate fates in recollection — usually good.

However, there’s no denying that some people can abuse prayer just as they can abuse shopping or alcohol or any other normally good thing, and that some people can exploit prayer to exploit other people.

This is why everybody with a prayer life needs to pray sensibly. You don’t need to fear popular devotions; but you do need to figure out which ones are good and helpful, and which ones aren’t. It’s fine to explore different devotions, but you shouldn’t try to include every prayer and practice that comes down the pike into your prayer life every day. There are literally thousands of devotions out there, folks, and people make up new stuff every day.

Here’s an example: a new devotion I came across just the other day. My company did some United Way volunteering, and was sent to help out at a local non-Catholic seminary whose new facility (once a rec center) included a running track. Said running track had a sign near it about this new devotion, and the words of the new devotion were on construction paper on the walls all around the track.

So the first thing we look at, in a new prayer or devotion, is What does this devotion entail? In this case, there was nothing creepy — no weird wording, no bizarre actions required. It was a passage from Colossians: 3:1 – 3:16. (If I had been given a copy of this, I would look at it to see whether anything was weirdly translated or left out. But I think it was fine.)

The explanatory sign promised that this prayer was better than the Prayer of Jabez (so’s practically everything), and that if you said it every day for six weeks, it would improve your life.

Right there is a warning sign. The primary purpose of pious prayers and practices is not to get guaranteed results. If you do it because it comes with a warranty, you’re not being very pious. Now, nothing’s wrong with asking for what you want and expecting to get eggs instead of snakes. But.

God is your Father and Brother and the Body you are part of. He is not your vending machine. If you expect to insert Prayer A and get Result B every time, either you are talking about a covenantal promise and have a very impoverished view of the nature of covenant law (as a contract that compels rather than becoming part of a family and God’s plan), or you are talking about casting a spell which compels God to do your will. Neither attitude respects God even as a person, much less as the Creator and Redeemer and Spirit, dwelling within everything and beyond everything, in unapproachable light.

The Sacraments, for example, are covenantal promises. If you approach them with awe and respect and an open heart, putting God’s worship first, you will find that Result B is only “the same result every time” in the same sense that the sun comes up every morning. But the Sacraments are not there to improve your life, along the lines you direct and no other. They are there to transform you, along God’s lines. If you take the wrong attitude, you may turn away God’s grace, or you may force that grace to act upon you in unpredictable ways to get your attention. It isn’t like God’s a tame lion. :)

However, going back to our example: the next thing to ask is, “How is this a prayer?” It’s a Bible passage that’s an exhortation, not a prayer. So this isn’t a prayer at all; it’s a devotional practice. In this case, a repetition of useful words for purposes of exhorting oneself to virtue. In other words, it’s Christianized “Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better” to tell yourself exactly what you should be working on to get better and better.

Which is a perfectly okay activity; it’s just not a prayer.

(So why would someone say something is a prayer when it’s not? At a very academic sort of seminary? Still kinda boggles the mind.)

In some ways, devotional practices like this require more discernment than prayers. You can accumulate pious practices all day, and not have them be more useful to you than a tic. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with putting a little Christian culture into your life. But don’t expect guaranteed results in six months or your time back. That’s just silly.

Other important discernment questions about new devotions:

How much does it cost? If it isn’t free, or requires you to pay someone, that’s a red flag. Only dangerous cults and conmen make you pay to pray. If you’re Catholic, know that nothing blessed should ever be bought or sold (because that would be selling a blessing, which is simony), especially relics. (Especially first-class relics. Don’t sell bits of people!) If you’re anyone, be suspicious of overly expensive religious goods.

What picture of God does it promote?

Is it way too obsessed with the end of the world?

Does it come with threats if you don’t do it, or do it wrong?

Is it a chain letter, or does it require similar viral distribution?

There are also discernment procedures to follow. Basically, test for the Spirit and look at the fruit. If people engaged in a practice are led to do creepy stuff, or promise extravagant results, or hate and despise people who don’t do the devotion or even question it… that’s probably not something to get into. (Even if the prayer is good, the people involved with it may abuse the devotional practice. You may not want to spend too much time with people like that.)

A good devotional practice should help you to love God and your neighbor more deeply. There are lots of ways to do that. Pick something useful, try it out, and if it doesn’t help you love God, feel free to stop. Devotions, like every other created thing, are a good servant but a bad master.

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The Hollywood 84

If you wanted to see who actually signed that anti-terrorism ad in the LA Times (since everybody was talking about it but nobody seemed to have a picture), here’s a scan of it from a blog called A Socialite’s Life.

This is the sort of thing I like to see, both in a blog and a Hollywood political ad. :)

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The Sign of the Camellia

One of Daniel Mitsui’s commenters pointed us to this great site about Hidden Christians in Japan from some students doing a documentary on the subject. The website is full of wonderful photos and information.

One of the more interesting bits are the photos of the Goto Islands, where many Christians fled to escape persecution through distance. I know we’ve been reading a lot lately about the fascination some folks have with pictures of Jesus and Mary produced by natural phenomena (trees, overpass drips, oil tanks, windows in Florida). So it was fascinating to learn that the Hidden Christians used just such chance-resemblance stones to replace the statues they did not dare make, and regarded them as indeed special blessings and signs from God. The stones still are in use today. I was also touched to learn of the use of flowery cross designs in that area, and indeed, of the four-lobed Japanese heraldic symbol of the camellia (tsubaki) as a cross-in-disguise among all sorts of Hidden Christians. In some places, the tsubaki becomes a normal European quatrefoil, but still has that added significance.

Other good stuff you’ll find on the site: an Ikitsuki church panelled in butterfly-wing mosaics (you can see one on the homepage), Christian samurai tsuba (swordguards protecting the hand on the hilt from slipping up onto the blade, or from somebody else’s blade!), depictions of how hot springs towns were used as torture centers, Mary statues disguised as Kannon, a reliquary of St. Francis Xavier’s armbone, and other interesting stuff.

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English Climate Finally Reaching Normal Balmy Levels!

The Little Ice Age is giving us a break once more, and a new time of prosperity, renaissance, and good eats is upon us. For those who fondly yearn for those high medieval days of Mediterranean vineyards in England and oranges in Kent, a story of joy!

Amateur gardener Alan Partridge has managed to grow a bunch of bananas in Devon.

Hurrah! Happy days are here again!

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We Call That a “Habit”

Every so often, it occurs to me that a lot of Protestant and evangelical layfolk don’t really want to act like laypeople at all. They want to act like they’re part of a religious order community (and though they’d never support the old practice of oblates), right down to their tiny little kiddies.

Enter the Armor of God Pajamas.

Now, I don’t particularly object to this. It’s just that we in the Catholic world, east and west, have a similar custom. It’s called “members of religious orders putting on their habits”, not to mention “priests putting on their vestments“:

“The priest or bishop who is about to celebrate, having washed his hands, taketh the amice, and covereth his head with it; and this he hath in the stead of the ephod or super-humeral, or of the Breastplate of Judgment; nay, even now it may be called the super-humeral. This signifieth salvation, which is granted through faith; whereof also the Apostle speaketh, saying unto the Ephesians, PUT ON THE HELMET OF SALVATION.”

(It goes on from there, with tons more symbolism and scriptural citation.)

Another very common accessory is the “yoke” that is “easy and light” — represented for the religious by the tabardy thing that monks and sisters of certain orders call a scapular (because it go over the scapulae, shoulders), and which inspired the stylized cord ones that many laypersons wear.

So I agree that re-inventing the wheel can be fun and useful. But sheesh, let the kids enjoy the lay state every once in a while, huh?

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Prayers Requested

First, a good thing — my younger brother’s tire blew out the other day, and he didn’t end up smeared across the pavement! He was on the cellphone with my mother at the time. (Ooops.) But he dropped the phone, grabbed the wheel, and no bad consequences ensued — except to poor Mom’s pulse. So that’s something to be thankful for.

Now the prayer requests. One of my mom’s former students is going under the knife on Tuesday. The doctors hope to stop his grand mal seizures through surgery on his hippocampus. Unfortunately, there are many things you need that are also in the hippocampus part of your brain. So please spare him a thought.

Also, the continuing saga of tension and misunderstanding between my parents and my older brother and sister-in-law keeps rolling along. If you could spare a prayer about this to God, who gives us peace beyond all understanding, and maybe enlist the prayers of St. Monica, I would be grateful.Finally, a lot of people in my family are facing some serious health problems these days, and I’m not exactly Miss Fit and Healthy myself (though next to everybody else, I can hardly complain). So please pray for us, and I will pray for you and your families, too.

‘Cause if God is feeling favorable towards members of my family lately, I figure this might be a good time to keep asking!

(You know, it’s really lucky for me that my parents don’t have the Internet, and apparently nobody in the family is interested in my blog and podcast. My affairs bore them, and hence I have security through obscurity. Heh!

Of course, said security will probably all end abruptly someday and then there’ll be a big fight, but honestly, if you think a family like mine is going to avoid big fights, you clearly are overly optimistic. Actually, it’s the times when people avoid big fights and just brood, or take things to heart instead of slamming back, that I worry about. Big fights blow over.)

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The Elusive Professor Moriarty… er, Grisha.

Here’s an interesting article on Grigory “Grisha” Perelman, the elusive Russian mathematical genius who may have proved the Poincare conjecture. It’s on the New York Times site, so read it quick before it goes away!

The funny bit is that Perelman really does sound like Moriarty, except for the evil part.
“Born in St. Petersburg in 1966, he distinguished himself as a high school student by winning a gold medal with a perfect score in the International Mathematical Olympiad in 1982. After getting a Ph.D. from St. Petersburg State, he joined the Steklov Institute of Mathematics at St. Petersburg… Although [his papers on Poincare] were so technical and abbreviated that few mathematicians could read them, they quickly attracted interest among experts…Recently, Dr. Perelman is said to have resigned from Steklov….””

“His career has been an extraordinary one. He is a man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty. At the age of twenty-one he wrote a treatise upon the binomial theorem, which has had a European vogue. On the strength of it he won the mathematical chair at one of our smaller universities, and had, to all appearances, a most brilliant career before him… Dark rumors gathered round him in the university town, and eventually he was compelled to resign his chair.

Is he not the celebrated author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid, a book which ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that it is said that there was no man in the scientific press capable of criticizing it?”

However, unlike Moriarty, whose interests included sitting at the center of a vast web of information — wait, that’s my hobby! — and being the Napoleon of Crime, Grisha Perelman is apparently a sweet guy who likes going out mushroom hunting in the woods.  (Moriarty would look for poison mushrooms, of course.)

In all seriousness, Grisha, I wish you well, wherever you are. But your colleagues are worried about you. Send ‘em some non-math email, eh?

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Beatriz de Bobadilla

This blog has previously talked about the relationship between Spanish history and Lois McMaster Bujold’s fantasy masterpiece, The Curse of Chalion. I thought I’d done a big post about Beatriz de Bobadilla, the real life counterpart to Bujold’s likeable Lady Betriz. But I can’t find it, so apparently not.

Here’s a lovely portrait of Beatriz, on a page which unfortunately includes some fairly narsty allegations about her personal life (conflated with nasty allegations about her younger sister’s personal life). But all in Spanish.

So aren’t you all lucky! Here’s an article that’s actually in English! Since it’s in the middle of a long 1991 newsletter for fans of Columbus, I’m taking the liberty of reproducing it here.

Christopher Columbus and the Bobadilla Family
by Gloria Miller and Lynne Guitar

There is a mysterious beauty whose name many historians have confused with that of her elder sister, Beatriz de Bobadilla. This beautiful lady, Eleanora de Bobadilla, is important to the Columbus story because of her rumored love affair with him in the Old World before he left to discover a new one.
The Bobadilla family was already a noble line when Pedro de Bobadilla, the girls’ father, fought against the Moors in Spain (his wrists and ankles showed scars from the chains with which he’d been bound in Moorish dungeons). Pedro was made Guardian and Caretaker of the Dowager Queen Isabella of Portugal and her two young children, Isabella and Alfonso. They lived in the castle of Arevalo near Segovia.

Pedro’s daughter, Beatriz, was the same age as Princess Isabella, and the two young girls were best friends. When Isabella became Queen of Castile in 1474, Beatriz became her personal Lady-in-Waiting. And Beatriz was with Isabella when she married Ferdinand of Aragon on October 18, 1469. (Their friendship was a lasting one–she was also at the Queen’s deathbed on November 26, 1504). Beatriz de Bobadilla married Andres de Cabrera, the Marquis de Moya, and used her influence as Marquesa and as the Queen’s confidante to plead the cause of a handsome foreigner, one Christopher Columbus, who had a scheme to reach the riches of the East Indies by sailing west across the unknown Ocean Sea. Throughout the eight years that Columbus sought funding for his enterprise, the Marquesa remained one of his most avid supporters.


Several years earlier, Beatriz de Bobadilla had brought her younger sister, Eleanora, to the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. But the beautiful young girl caught the eye of King Ferdinand, so Queen Isabella determined to send her away. She had Eleanora married off to Ferdinand de Peraza, Governor of Gomera in the Canary Islands. Peraza was killed in a riot among the natives,
and Eleanora, still under thirty years of age, became the Lady Governor of Gomera.


On September 2, 1492, Christopher Columbus’ last stop in the known world was at Gomera, where his small fleet of three ships stocked up on fresh water and provisions for the ocean crossing. Eleanora was not on the island when Columbus arrived, but they did meet before he sailed. On his second voyage, in October of 1493, Eleanora lavishly entertained Admiral Columbus and his officers when he stopped again to provision his ships at Gomera, and the rumors flew that the Admiral was smitten by the lovely Lady Governor. (The rumors of their love affair were neither proved nor disproved; however, in 1497, Eleanora de Bobadilla married Alfonso de Lugo, Governor of all the Canary Islands).


Another Bobadilla entered the Columbus story in 1500 — Francisco de Bobadilla, Chevalier and Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Calatrava (he was Beatriz and Eleanora’s uncle).


Francisco was sent to the island of Hispaniola by royal order of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to investigate a flood of complaints against Christopher Columbus, the Governor, and his two brothers, Bartholomew and Diego. Upon his arrival at the capital of the Indies, Francisco put the three Columbus brothers in chains and sent them back to Spain to face trial. Queen Isabella was furious that Francisco de Bobadilla had overstepped his authority and humiliated her Admiral. She personally ordered the chains struck from Columbus’ wrists and ankles, and had Bobadilla recalled to Spain.


But Bobadilla never made it. He perished in a hurricane just a few days out from Hispaniola in June, 1502. Columbus, who was on his fourth voyage at the time, had warned Bobadilla not to set sail, for a hurricane was making up. Bobadilla had laughed at his warning, “Ha! He thinks he can predict the weather!” (Enemies of Columbus later swore that he’d “conjured up” that hurricane to punish Bobadilla.)


The scars of humiliation that Francisco de Bobadilla had inflicted upon the Admiral never left him. He kept the chains mounted on his bedroom wall and, at his orders, they were buried with him in 1506.


1. Most books on Columbus call the Lady Governor of Gomera “Beatriz,” following the lead of Henry Harisse and Samuel Eliot Morison, two of history’s foremost Columbian scholars. But Roger Bigelow Merriman, late Professor of History at Harvard University and author of “The Rise of the Spanish Empire in the Old World and the New”, says in Volume II, “… these authors are clearly
mistaken in stating that it was Beatriz de Bobadilla whom Peraza married. Beatriz was the Queen’s most intimate friend and Camarera Mayor, and was married to Andres de Cabrera, Marquis of Moya. Peraza’s bride was her sister, Eleanora.”


Gloria Miller, a retired art teacher, and Lynne Guitar, a writer and editor, collaborated on a historical-fiction novel about the Columbus family, for which they are seeking a publisher.

Unfortunately, it’s starting to look as though Columbus’ chains were a fair cop.

By the way, it seems that Bujold was not the first great American writer to take Isabella and Beatriz for her subjects. No! Longfellow wrote about them too, in his novel Mercedes of Castile, or The Voyage to Cathay! Yup, it’s a novel mostly about Columbus.

Here’s a picture of Beatriz’ lovely home. Cozy, ain’t it? Since this article in Spanish tells us more concrete information, I’ll translate the relevant bits here.

“Andres Cabrera was the royal majordomo of King Enrique IV, the monarch who entrusted him with the palace of Segovia, where the legendary royal treasury was kept…

Cabrera, who is thought to have been of Jewish origin, suppressed an uprising against the New Christians in Segovia. Afterward, he decided that Segovia and the royal treasury would go to Isabella upon the death of the king… and with the approval of the king, he sought an interview with the Princess Isabella and Prince Fernando.

Beatriz de Bobadilla went to Aranda de Duero — they say dressed as a farmwife to avoid raising suspicions — and he invited Isabella to Segovia. Enrique received Isabella, and then Fernando, splendidly, but in a few days he fell ill and died (in 1474).

After the king’s death, Isabella was proclaimed queen of Castile and received the unconditional fealty of Cabrera, along with all the crown’s money…

Isabella knew very well she could not repay the acts of Don Andres de Cabrera and her lady-in-waiting Beatriz de Bobadilla, for which she gave them the title of Marques and Marquesa of Moya.

In 1476, Andres being absent from Segovia, a riot broke out against him. Pleading the town’s poverty, the rioters also captured the queen’s daughter. Beatriz de Bobadilla managed to escape and warn Isabel, who went alone and without escort, took over the situation, and kept Andres in his post, after studying the complaints and finding them unfounded, perhaps set about by the disgruntled previous alcalde, Maldonado.

In 1480, after the Catholic Kings’ victory, they granted Andres de Cabrera and Beatriz de Bobadilla the new seignory of Chinchon, which included the Sixth of Valdemoro, and the villages of Serranillos, Moraleja, Villaviciosa de Odón, Brunete, San Martin de la Vega y Boadilla del Monte from the Sixth of Casarrubios, practically all the Segovian possessions to the east of the Guadarrama River in the actual province of Madrid, in addition to lands outside the area (Bayona, etc.).

In 1487, they participated in the siege of Malaga, where a fanatical Moor wounded Beatriz after mistaking her for the queen. They also participated in the taking of Guadix, Baza, and finally Granada, the surrender of which was confirmed by Andres along with the prelates and grandees of Castile.

In 1504, Queen Isabella died, and dedicated a full paragraph of her will to confirming all of the privileges granted to Andres de Cabrera and his wife Beatriz.

…Later, Charles I in 1520 granted Fernando Cabrera, son of Andres and Beatriz, the title of Count of Chinchon….”

Here’s a page from Chinchon, which includes a picture of Beatriz’ castle.

By the way, it seems that at least one Bobadilla lady wasn’t just interested in exploring. Isabel de Bobadilla married Hernando de Soto and became Lady Governor of Cuba.

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